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The Fortunes & Misfortunes Of Moll Flanders [1996 TV movie]

por David Attwood

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A sexually charged adaptation of the Daniel Defoe classic. Moll is a woman struggling to make her way in a rough, randy era. Her story involves five husbands, numerous lovers, shocking family secrets and travels to bustling London and Virginia. Moll's dangerous misdeeds stretch from sexual adventures to criminal acts, leaving her with a price on her head.… (mais)
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Moll Flanders (1996)

Alex Kingston – Moll Flanders

Daniel Craig – James ‘Jemmy’ Seagrave
Diana Rigg – Mrs Golightly
James Fleet – James Bland
Struan Rodger – Mr Richardson
Colin Buchanan – Rowland
Ian Driver – Robin
Maureen O’Brien – Mrs Richardson
Caroline Harker – Maria
Christopher Fulford – Daniel Dawkins
Tom Ward – Lemuel
Trevyn McDonell – Mrs Seagrave
Patti Love – Mrs Riordan
John Savident – Clergyman in Coach
Nicola Walker – Lucy Diver
Ronald Fraser – Sir Richard Gregory

Screenplay by Andrew Davis, based on the novel (1722) by Daniel Defoe
Directed by David Attwood

Colour. 2 parts, 99+97 min.

======================================

Unlike the other two versions I have seen, the tedious theatrical movie from the same year and the unwatchable farce from 1965, this TV production is recognisably based on Defoe’s poorly written but strangely powerful book. Indeed, it follows the novel almost too closely, including the uncertain pace, the fantastic coincidences and the hysterical melodrama. All of Moll’s five marriages, including the one to her half-brother, are here, and so is her spectacular career as a thief.

There are many cuts and changes, of course, most of them judiciously done. The relationship with Jemmy is expanded in fine picaresque style and there are some delightful additions to the other marriages. A hilarious confession before husband no. 4 and the vigil of the future no. 5 (“I can’t help wondering, do you not grow stiff sitting upright so long?”) are definite highlights. The pious repentance in Newgate and the New World melodrama in the end are omitted: big improvements on the novel. On the downside, the role of the midwife/governess/pawnbroker is much curtailed, which is too bad because it is one of the most fascinating parts from the original. Much of the social commentary on marriage and match-making is also gone.

The claustrophobic production is no more than serviceable and so is the jerky direction, but the cast is very nearly perfect. Alex Kingston is spellbinding. Moll Flanders is a complex and contradictory character. It’s quite a journey from her initial innocence to the scheming and seductive woman of the world to the hardened criminal whom no putative punishment can scare off – and back. Alex Kingston nails every nuance from Moll’s callous and selfish motives to her unexpected, and all the more moving, flashes of loneliness and horror of herself. It is, of course, very much her movie, including a good deal of voiceover narrative and even some lines delivered straight to the camera. This last is a dangerous and often tacky method, even in Shakespearean soliloquies, but here it works well indeed.

The supporting cast is brimming with memorable performances. Daniel Craig, long-haired and long before Bond fame, is dashing as the “Lancashire husband”, a rogue if there ever was one. I wish his role had been expanded even more. Diana Rigg as Moll’s “mother-in-law”, James Fleet as husband no. 4, Struan Rodger as Moll’s “father” and Colin Buchanan as her “elder brother” are all wonderful. But everybody in the large cast is a joy to watch.

Much has been made of the numerous and fairly explicit sex scenes. All of them, as a matter of fact, are stylishly done and necessary to the plot. Reviewers who tell you this is merely porn in disguise are way wide of the mark. This is simply not a movie for prudes and neither, still less indeed, is the novel. Besides, Alex Kingston has quite a fine body. No harm in seeing as much of it as possible.

On the whole, this is a marvellous adaptation. Amusing, steamy and touching, with excellent script and beautiful acting, it is a treat from start to finish. It could have been better, sure, but it is so much above the others that it seems churlish to complain. If you have read and enjoyed the book, make sure to see this movie as well. ( )
  Waldstein | Apr 1, 2020 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
David Attwoodautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Craig, Danielautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Fulford, ChristopherActorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Kingston, Alexautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Rigg, DianaActorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Scarborough, VictoriaActorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado

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A sexually charged adaptation of the Daniel Defoe classic. Moll is a woman struggling to make her way in a rough, randy era. Her story involves five husbands, numerous lovers, shocking family secrets and travels to bustling London and Virginia. Moll's dangerous misdeeds stretch from sexual adventures to criminal acts, leaving her with a price on her head.

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